book by Arthur Laurents music by Jule Styne lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.
Chichester Festival Theatre Oaklands Park PO19 6AP To 8 November 2014.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm.
Audio-described 31 Oct, 1 Nov 2.30pm, 7 Nov, 8 Nov 2.30pm.
BSL Signed 29 Oct 7.30pm.
Captioned 8 Nov 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 50min One interval.
TICKETS: 01243 781312.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 23 October.
Entertains you in style.
This summer Chichester triumphed in reviving 1950’s hymn to New York life Guys and Dolls. Now autumn’s here they’re doing pretty much as well with Gypsy, the celebration of Broadway from the other end of the decade.
There’s not the same effortless melody or humour, but the story’s a sort of off-kilter 42nd Street. Showbiz history provides a new kind of storyline. Momma Rose is centre-stage in act one, promoting and pushing daughter June, the duck-to-water child-star who is her highest hope. The story’s eventual swan – the retiring duckling whose skill is making the costumes – is thoughtful, shy sister Louise who sensibly steps-up when the family’s luck is down and their dying vaudeville act booked unawares into a low-order Burlesque theatre.
Alongside Arthur Laurents’ well-structured book and Jule Styne’s likeable, sometimes memorable score, there are the effortless, witty Stephen Sondheim lyrics to enjoy.
At first, the fake proscenium arch backing Chichester’s thrust stage seems tame, but Anthony Ward’s set makes several points as the arch sweeps back and forth while the family travels seeking work, domestic scenes often crowded into sides and corners of the stage as they live hand-to-mouth.
Jonathan Kent’s production invests the action with a sense of movement that’s also emblematic of the family’s transience, Momma Rose surviving by determination and refusal to be beaten. Even when she is.
Which points to the production’s triumphant centre. It’s not the repeated musical climaxes, easily achieved with brassy emphasis through modern sound systems, but Imelda Staunton’s compact dynamo of a Momma. Well-sung certainly, but mainly acted with an intensity where momentary comic inflections never hide the determination to survive. Staunton’s Momma Rose is in the same line as her Margaret, in David Lindsay-Abaire’s (non-musical) Good People at Hampstead earlier this year; a force by nature.
Lara Pulver’s Louise offsets Staunton’s explosive vitality with a reserve which finally reveals itself as equal in steely determination to her mother’s impulsive vitality. With a lot of showbiz around, and the quiet lover who gave-up the theatre, Herbie, left well in the shade, just about everything’s coming up roses at Chichester now.
Uncle Jocko/Cigar: Jimmy Chisholm.
Georgie/Kansas: Damien Poole.
Baby June: Elise Blake/Georgia Pemberton.
Baby Louise: Ruby Bridle/Holly Hazelton.
Momma Rose: Imelda Staunton.
Pop: Harry Dickman.
Weber/Boucheron: Tom Hodgkins.
Herbie: Kevin Whately.
Louise: Lara Pulver.
June: Gemma Sutton.
TulsaL Dan Burton.
Yonkers/Pastey: Kieran Jae.
L.A.: Roger Dipper.
Little Rock/Phil: Jack North.
Mr Goldstone: Jack Chissick.
Miss Cratchitt/Electra: Julie Legrand.
Agnes: Natalie Woods.
Marjorie May: Clare Halse.
Geraldine/Renee: Danielle Morris.
Jaynee: Jane McMurtrie.
Tessie Tura: Anita Louise Combe.
Mazeppa: Louise Gold.
Dolores: Lauren Varnham.
Children’s Ensemble: Lisa Bird, Millie Cooter, Pollyanna Gailer, Daisy-May Hanvey, Yasmin Lowe, Jessie Popkiewicz-Smith, Dominic Bryant, Kai Cooper, Alexander Evans, Alexander Fyfe, Alfie Jukes, Patrick Lee, Jonah Mitchell, Max Newitt, Harvey Pearce, Owen Pennington, George Waller.
Director: Jonathan Kent.
Designer: Anthony Ward.
Lighting: Mark Henderson.
Sound: Paul Groothuis.
Orchestrator/Musical Director: Nicholas Skilbeck.
Video: Ian William Galloway.
Choreographer: Stephen Mear.
Voice/Dialect Coach: Penny Dyer.
Associate director: Lloyd Wood.
Assistant director: Jake Smith.
Associate orchestrator: Tom Kelly.
Assistant musical director: Peter White.
Associate video: Leo Flint.
Associate choreographer: Nikki Woollaston.
Assistant choreographer: Jane McMurtrie.